A new year means new resolutions, which usually means a “new you”, right?  As a small business owner, resolutions may be more focused on your company than yourself; however, many times companies and its owners are one.

As you take a look at your image and reputation, what comes to mind? Is Your Business Reputation Hurting by Dave Thomas discusses what could be behind a low online reputation, and how to fix it. At Marketing With Class, we agree! This is something to pay close attention to, before your small business needs to start over completely because of some bad impressions that may be lingering.

Information exchanged online influences people’s decisions MORE than almost anything else, word-of-mouth still rules.

If you’ve developed a bad or not so good reputation online, you may want to consider the following:

1) Why is your Reputation Damaged?

If your online reputation is at risk, the first thing you want to do is figure out why. There could be several reasons such as one unsatisfied client, an angered employee, or your competitors trying to make you look bad! In order for you to fight back against accusations, or even to fix them, you need to know why things are being said, who is saying them, and where they are putting this information.

A quick and easy start could be to set up Google Alerts for your company, your management team and anyone else who represents your company. All you need is a Gmail account to get started; however, some are criticizing Google for recent changes to their product. (More options are below, so keep reading.)

2) What’s True or False?

Unlike the woman in the State Farm commercial dating a “French model”, most of us know not everything on the internet is true. But that doesn’t stop potential clients from believing what is being said – especially if they have been collected in an online review format.

After reviewing your company and team online, take a minute to consider whether what is being said is true or false. If a portion of what is being said is true, it may be a good time to re-evaluate your business model and refocus on the positive products or services that are offered.

3) Can you Re-focus on the Positive?

Good always conquers evils. If negative comments are being said online and damaging your reputation, work harder to promote all the awesome things your business does and offers to clients. Do this among different marketing mediums (social media, online reviews, blogging, developing stronger SEO, etc.) The more you promote the “good”, the faster you will push the “bad” further down the page.

4) Do you have a Plan for Being More Proactive?

Part of being a small business owner is knowing people will say negative things about your business. Although not always true, it happens. But being on your toes, knowing about it and having a plan to respond with dignity will help keep you in the game.

There is a plethora of free monitoring software that can help you keep a handle on you / your business to see when, what, and where things are being said. Check out the 7 apps to help you replace Google Alerts, an article provided by VentureBeat / Bloomberg.

Taking time to check on these programs will help you to fix any problems being discussed, clear up an issue that may be untrue, and so much more.